Late Summer Wanderings

by Howard Webb (St. Louis, MO, USA)



Late summer is an interesting time for exploring, especially for daphina.  Results are very unpredictable, as water quality and temperatures are quite variable. The spring population blooms are past, and many temporary ponds have dried up (especially with the current drought in the U.S. midwest).  In late July, I was out for a hike at the Arboretum.  It has been several years since I have been there, and they have added a wetlands area since my last visit.  This was my destination, with the intent to see what was there, and what might have moved into the new habitat.


The Arboretum (Shaw Nature Preserve) is located in Grey Summit, MO, about 30 miles south-west of St. Louis.  It was purchased by the Missouri Botanical Gardens in 1925, to protect plants from the St. Louis gardens, which were being threatened by high levels of smog (caused by coal furnaces).  The farm land was never needed for the intended purpose, and has over time been restored to prairie and other native habitat. The wetland was added several years ago, by damming up a small stream.

Much of the wetland pond was dry, though there was standing water at the end toward the dam.  What was accessible was covered in water lilies, and had a water depth of not more than 50cm.  The water temperature was reading about 30C.


A water sample was take using a cup on the end of my walking stick. The sample was then transported home in a recycled water bottle.

The sample showed a diversity of specimens, actually better than what I thought I would find for this time of year (particularly due to the water temperature). I filtered the sample through silk-screen fabric, and wet-mounted what was retained on the cloth.

The diversity of specimen size makes for some problems. A number of the daphnia were partially crushed under the cover slip, while the smaller rotifers and ciliates were vigorously moving around (even from under the cover-slip, to the excess water around the edges). It was impossible to photograph some of these smaller critters (at 400x) due to their size and speed. In particular, I noticed several ciliates (spirotrichea?) and chlorophyta (micrasterias) and possibly a volvox.

To try and slow them down, I added some club soda to the slide (the CO2 reduced their oxygen, and hence their behavior). Unfortunately, I added too much and most of the soft body animals exploded.


The sub-stage light was greatly reduced (via a rheostat) to increase detail visibility. This does however produce a dark brown image, which was subsequently adjusted with the software (increase gamma and contrast). All images have been reduced from their original size.

Click images to view a larger version.



Copeopod nauplius (larvae)

100x, bright field
62K file

40x, bright
23K file

Copepod nauplius (larvae)
100x, bright field
36K file

Chlorophyta closterium

Rotifer (Scaridium)

rotifer (Scaridium)(full length)

Chlorophyta closerium
400x bright field
21K file

Rotifer (Scaridium)
400x bright field
77K file

Rotifer (Scaridium)
100x bright field
same as one to left, but showing full body.

28K file

Rotifer (Brachionidae?)

Unknown chlorophyta

Ceriodaphnia (head)
400x bright field
68K file

Rotifer (Brachionidae?)
400x bright field
14K file

Remains of unknown chlorophyta
100x bright field
103K file


Technical Details

Environmental Conditions
Water temperature: 30

Depth: 50 cm

Location: 38.4760 N 90.8055 W (approx.)

Microscope: Bausch & Lomb monocular, 10x ocular, 4x, 10x and 40x objectives.

Camera: Canon PowerShot A70 3.2 megapixels, 2048x1536 original pixel size.  Pictures taken using remote control software from a computer.

Software: Photoshop Elements


Shaw Nature Preserve

Missouri Botanical Gardens


Comments to the author Comments to the author sent via our contacts page quoting page url plus : ('hwebb','')">Howard Webb are welcomed.

Microscopy UK Front Page
Micscape Magazine
Article Library

Microscopy UK or their contributors.

Published in the August 2005 edition of Micscape Magazine.

Please report any Web problems or offer general comments to the Micscape Editor,
via the contact on current Micscape Index.

Micscape is the on-line monthly magazine of the Microscopy UK web
site at